User:@pple/List of archaic English words and their modern equivalents

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This is a list of archaic English words and their modern equivalents. These words and spellings are now considered archaic or obsolete within the current status of the English language. Given both the rapidity of change in modern English and the number of versions used by nations and cultures, it should be borne in mind that dates are approximate and that the information here may not apply to all versions of English.

Look up Archaic terms in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.

The evolution of the English language is characterized by three phases. The first period dates from approximately 450 (the settlement of the Angles, Saxons and Jutes in England) to 1066 AD (the Norman Conquest). At this time the language made use of almost full inflexion, and is called Anglo-Saxon, or more exactly Old English. The second period dates from the Norman Conquest to probably c.1400 (though some books differ on when this period ends) and is called Middle English. During this time the majority of the inflections disappeared, and many Norman/Norseman and French words joined the language because of the profound influence of the Anglo-Norman ruling class. The third period dates from about 1400 to today (2007), and is known as Modern English, though until recently it was called New English. During the Modern English period, thousands of words have been derived by scholars from the Classical languages.

The impact of dictionaries in the definition of obsolescent or archaic forms has caused the standardization of spelling, hence many variant forms have fallen into disuse.

It should be noted that often poets and writers of prose with a very strong feel for the language may on occasion deliberately choose to use archaisms to emphasize a certain point or to create a mood.

Archaisms in the English language
Original word Origin Meaning Example Comments
an unknown historical form of if   used in Shakespearian/vulgar language
art form of the verb 'to be', from Old English eart. present second-person singular form of the verb be. "Are". …Who may stand in thy sight when once thou art angry? (Psalm 76:7) used in Biblical/Shakespearian/poetical language
astonied past participle of 'astony' from Middle English astonien < Old French estoner < Vulgar Latin *extonare = 'to thunder' to stun, amaze, or astonish; astound or bewilder …and I sat astonied until the evening sacrifice. (Ezra 9:4) used in Biblical/Shakespearian/poetical language
betwixt from Old English betweohs or dative betweoxum (between) between …He shall lie all night betwixt my breasts.(Song of Solomon 1:13) used in Biblical/Shakespearian/poetical language, also used in some Southern and Appalachian dialects of the United States during the 19th and 20th centuries.
bilbo From Bilbao, Spain, the haven exporting the ironworks of Biscay. an obscure and seldom used word for a short sword. Ha, thou mountain-foreigner! Sir John and Master mine, I combat challenge of this latten bilbo. Word of denial in thy labras here! Word of denial: froth and scum, thou liest! (William Shakespeare, The Merry Wives of Windsor (Act1, Scene 1) Bilbo is one of the Basque words for Bilbao, formerly called Bilboa in English.
bobbish from bob move up and down, dance, rebound + -ish brisk, well   Used in 1860s
bouncable unknown a swaggering boaster   Used in 1860s
Bridewell from the London prison of that name a prison   Used in 1860s (and in common current use in Nottingham where the police station attached to the Magistrates' Court is called The Bridewell)
caddish from the noun cad wicked   the noun 'cad' is dying out
cag-mag unknown decaying meat   Used in 1860s
chalk scores unknown a reference to accounts of debt, recorded with chalk marks   Used in 1860s
coddleshell unknown codicil; a modification to one's legal will   Used in 1860s
coiner Possibly related to the widespread minting of counterfeit coins in the 18th cent. a counterfeiter Enjoy your perch up there, Mister Newton, because Jack the Coiner has come back to London-town, and he aims to knock you down; the game has begun and may the best man win! (Neal Stephenson, The Confusion) Used in 1860s
connexion From Latin "Connexion" original spelling of connection Imagination could conceive almost anything in connexion with this place. (At the Mountains of Madness, by H.P. Lovecraft) Used in the 19th century
costermonger coster comes from Costard, a type of cooking apple, monger means trader or seller a greengrocer, seller of fruit and vegetables   fishmonger, ironmonger and warmonger are among the surviving words ending in -monger
cove unknown a fellow or chap It's what a cove knows that counts, ain't it, Sybil? (The Difference Engine, by Bruce Sterling and William Gibson) Used in 1860s
to craze Old Norse, through Old French to shatter   Used in 14th Century. A remnant survives in the phrase "cracked and crazed", also in ceramics where a glaze that has fine lines like cracks is called a craze. A modern usage would be in "crazed paving".
dost from do , compare with German "tust" present second-person singular form of the verb do I cry unto thee, and thou dost not hear me... (Job 30:20) used in Biblical, Shakespearian and poetical language.
doth from do , compare with German "tut" present third-person singular form of the verb do The north wind driveth away rain: so doth an angry countenance a backbiting tongue. (Proverbs 25:23) used in Biblical, Shakespearian and poetical language.
drab unknown a prostitute Finger of birth-strangled babe, ditch-delivered by a drab. (Shakespeare's Macbeth)  
dream A part of the root stock of the OE vocabulary. joy   Under the influence of Old Norse speakers in England, the word dream changed its meaning from ``joy, festivity, noisy merriment" to ``a sleeping vision". Died out before the 13th century.
ducats A bullion coin (not legal tender) used in international trade money   Austrian Ducats were displaced by Gold Sovereigns throughout the British Empire. The term is used today only to refer to the coin in numismatic circles, as Ducats are still produced by the Austrian mint. Ducatus' is a Neo-Latin term for "duchy".
eek, eke Old English "éac". Compare Dutch "ook", German "auch", both meaning "also" also When Zephyrus eke with his swoote breath

Inspired hath in every holt and heath (Chaucer's Canterbury Tales) ;

Used mostly in Middle English, but also later on until the 1600s. Is the origin for the word "nickname" (in Middle English "ekename").
-est from Old English "-est". Compare with German "-st". suffix used to form the present second-person singular of regular verbs When thou goest, thy steps shall not be straitened; and when thou runnest, thou shalt not stumble (Proverbs 4:12) used in Biblical, Shakespearian and poetical language.
-eth from Old English "-eð". Compare with Dutch and German "-t". suffix used to form the present third-person singular of regular verbs He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. (Psalm 23:2) used in Biblical, Shakespearian and poetical language.
fire a rick unknown to burn a stack of hay (rick), as a form of protest   Used in 1860s
Forsooth!   Really!   Used in Shakespearian English
fluey From the flue of a chimney, normally coated with soot from log or coal fires dusty   Used in 1860s
Grinder unknown a tutor who prepares students for examinations   Used in 1860s
hast from have, compare with German "hast". present second-person singular form of the verb have Thou hast proved mine heart; thou hast visited me in the night; thou hast tried me, and shalt find nothing... (Psalm 17:3) Compare to hast in German. Used in Biblical, Shakespearian and poetical language.
hath from have, compare with German "hat". present third-person singular form of the verb have This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it. (Psalm 118:24) used in Biblical/Shakespearian/poetical language
heavy unknown, likely an "emotional onomatopoeia " used to describe the feeling of depression depressed   used in the vulgar language
hither (to) here English accusative case form    
ivory tablets unknown paper for notetaking   Used in 1860s
kine Middle English kyen, a plural of the Old English cy, plural of cu, meaning cow cattle   Used until late 1800s; still in Biblical use; Spenser used the form kyne
marry unknown by the Virgin Mary, a mild oath meaning "indeed"   used in Shakespearian/vulgar language
methinks unknown, comp. German "mich dünkt" (old, lit.) literally, "it seems to me"   used in the vulgar language
mote old present tense of "must" from Old English motan must   NB. It may be argued that it is not technically defunct since the word is still used in freemasonry and wicca as part of certain rituals.
nay unknown, see article no   used in most settings
nought unknown nothing   used in the vulgar language, compare to German nichts
over the broomstick unknown to be married in a folk ceremony and not recognized by the law. Still commonly used as part of the ceremony in modern Pagan weddings by Wiccans, Witches and other alternative spiritualities. "Then if somebody been wantin' to marry they step over the broom and it be nounced they married" (Slave Narratives Betty Curlett of Hazen, Arkansas). Used in 1860s, "over the brush" still used in British English, c.f. jumping the broomstick.
quantum Latin for "as much", "how much" money to pay a bill   Used in 1860s. Still used in this sense in some legal terminology.
rantipole unknown to behave in a romping or rude manner   Used in 1860s
read with unknown to tutor   Used in 1860s, still used in Caribbean English
shake-down unknown a bed   Used in 1860s, also a modern slang term dealing with law enforcement, and, as an adjective indicating an initial cruise for a Navy ship
shalt from shall used to form the future tense of verbs Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel. (Psalm 2:9) used in Biblical, Shakespearian and poetical language
shew original strong present tense (shew, show, shown) from Old English sceawian; replaced by related weak verb show meaning "to make a show of" show 'To shew Louisa, how alike in their creeds, her father and Harthouse are?' - (Dickens' notes on Hard Times). Used in the 19th century
smote past tense of 'smite' (smite, smote, smitten) from Old English smitan = 'to strike' struck hard, beat, inflicted a blow And he smote them hip and thigh with a great slaughter... (Judges 15:8) used in Biblical, Shakespearian and poetical language.
soft unknown an exclamation meaning "wait a minute!"   used in Shakespearian/vulgar language
stand high unknown to have a good reputation   Used in 1860s
thee, thou, thy/thine from Old English þú, comp. German "du, dich, dein" old 2nd person singular pronoun Thou art my God, and I will praise thee: thou art my God, I will exalt thee. (Psalm 118:28) "Thee" is used when it is the grammatical object, "thou" when it is the subject. "Thy" and "thine" are both genitives, but "thine" is only used in front of an initial vowel or h or as the last word of a sentence. Still used in Biblical/Shakespearian/poetical language.
Also still used in northern dialects of British English e.g. Yorkshire.
thither (to) there English accusative case form of indicative pronoun there    
thole from Old English þolian to bear; put up with; suffer A man with a good crop can thole some thistles (Scots Proverb) Still used in northern and Scottish dialects of British English e.g. Yorkshire.
unto   to, onto, upon And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? (Genesis 3:9) Mainly used in Early Modern English.
wast, wert from be , comp. German "warst" past-tense second person singular of be, used with thou If thou wert pure and upright; surely now he would awake for thee, and make the habitation of thy righteousness prosperous. (Job 8:6) The original form was "were", which underwent analogical reformation in Early Modern English. Shakespeare used the form "wert," while the King James Bible used "wast" for the indicative, and "wert" for the subjunctive.
whence from where from what place Whence came this traveler? Used in poetry
wherefore   comp. German "wofür" why Wherefore do the wicked live, become old, yea, are mighty in power? (Job 21:7) It is a common misconception that "wherefore" means "where". In Romeo and Juliet, the context of "Wherefore art thou, Romeo?" is not "Where are you, Romeo", but rather "Why is your name Romeo?"
whitesmith from blacksmith, an iron worker a tinsmith   Used in 1860s
whither contraction of where hither to where (destination) whence camest thou? and whither wilt thou go? (Genesis 16:8) Compare to wohin in German. used in Biblical, Shakespearian and poetical language.
whitlow unknown a sore or swelling in a finger or thumb   Used in 1860s, still used in British English
wilt from will used to form the future tense of verbs whence camest thou? and whither wilt thou go? (Genesis 16:8) used in Biblical, Shakespearian and poetical language.
withal unknown form of(which form?) with   used in Shakespearian and vulgar language.
wittles from "victuals" food You bring me, to-morrow morning early, that file and them wittles. (Great Expectations, Charles Dickens) Used in 1860s, vittles still used in British and American English
yea (pronounced yey/yae) unknown, possibly similar to aye yes   Used in the vulgar language. Not to be mistaken for the similarly-spelt term yeah, which has a different pronounciation.
zounds corrupted form of "God's wounds" expletive   Still used occasionally in British English, but its taboo has disappeared. It was originally a very offensive exclamative, often considered immensely blasphemous. Used often in Shakespearian literature, alongside 'sblood (which has a similar meaning).